Are you a victim of Greenwashing?

Green-wash (green’wash’, -wôsh’) – verb: the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service.

Have you ever been out shopping and opted towards buying an environmentally friendly product that may cost

Imagea couple of extra dollars? Did that product promise to be better for YOU and the environment?

Well next time you make the decision to purchase these products, make sure you are completely aware of what they really contain. More often than not, products that claim to be “Green” and environmentally friendly end up causing more harm than good.

If you take a look at your local grocery store you will probably be able to spot these products easily. Some of them include:

1. Dawn Antibacterial dish soap

It claims to help save wildlife by cleaning up animals affected by oil spills. However, the soap itself contains elements harmful to animals.

2.Vim PowerPro Naturals

The label on Vim PowerPro Naturals bathroom cleaner says 98 per cent natural ingredients. However, after inspection it turned out that the product includes a large component of petroleum based chemicals.

3. Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner

On the label, this cleaning product states it’s non-toxic. But aMarketplace expert determined that one ingredient in the cleaner, 2-butoxyethanol, is listed by Environment Canada as a toxic health hazard that can damage red blood cells.

4. Sunlight Green Clean laundry soap

This product claims to be made up of solely plant based cleaning products. However, tests conducted on this product proved that it is 38% made of petro-chemicals.

This is a  very small number of examples compared to the real amount of deceiving “Green” product. So next time you choose to purchase such items, make sure you are making an educated and informed decision. 

Advertisements

What’s Your Most Prized Possession?

Today, I stumbled across a project completed by Italian photographer Gabriele Galimberti. He travelled the world for 18 months and photographed children with their most prized possessions/toys. He then composed an album that highlighted the blatant contrast of living conditions around the world. Here are few of what I found to be some of the most striking photos.

Chiwa-Mwafulirwa-Malawi-1024x1024 Noel-South-Dallas-Texas-1024x1024 ‘ Jaqueline-Amelie-J.Rivera-Manila-philippines-01-1024x1024Norden-Rrahke-Marocco-1024x1024

Here is a link to his album: http://www.gabrielegalimberti.com/projects/toys-2/

By viewing these pictures, it is easy to notice that they portray a striking inequality of income between children photographed from different parts of the world. Some pictures featured children surrounded by mountains of toys in beautifully decorated rooms, while others proudly displayed their favourite worn out dinosaur or race car in makeshift tents or crummy rooms.

However, if you were to take a second thorough look at the pictures, you will be able to find more similarities than differences. The subject of the project seemed to unite all kids of different backgrounds as they all were given the chance to display their favourite toys or possessions. All the children featured throughout the album, regardless of the expenses or simplicity of their possessions  enjoyed the same feeling of joy and happiness as they spent a few minutes a day playing with these toys.

In fact, when Galimberti was asked about his project, he spoke of a girl in Malawi and a boy in Texas, who both used their dinosaurs to protect them from “danger”. Similarly, he stated that  all children’s choices in toys were influenced by their parent’s professions or surrounding environments.

Do similarities matter?

YES, instead of drawing a distinction between children around the world, we should attempt to link them through their similarities. Maybe once the world is viewed more as “one”,  more compassion for those suffering would be created. It is important to remember that children are usually the biggest victims of conflict while being only innocent bystanders. They do not instigate conflict, do not plan military coups, and do not hide nuclear weapons. However, they usually end up paying the price for the action of the “adults” of the world.

Next time you see a child suffering from the side effects to war, conflict, hunger etc. do not remove yourself from the situation or consider them to be “different” than you or your children. Just remember what Galimberti said “Children are all the same, they just want to play”.

It was just brought to my attention that another awesome blogger has previously covered this topic. So I thought I would link her so you guys can take a look at her great blogpost as well! Click here to check it out. 

Who Cares About Climate Change?: The Green Fatigue.

Image

If you were asked to list the types of fatigue you are familiar with what would your answer be? Would it be physical and emotional fatigue? Or maybe the highly publicized donor and voter fatigue? Well make room for a new type fatigue that is about to become all the rage, The Green Fatigue.

According to recent studies, completed by GlobScan, the world has cooled down on global warming (see what I did there?).  Worldwide concerns about climate change have dropped dramatically since 2009, marking the setting in of the Green Fatigue.  From the 22,812 people surveyed from 22 different countries, fewer people consider things such as pollution, species loss and water shortage to be very serious.  Environmental concerns among citizens around the world have been falling and have now reached a twenty year low.  Along with the drop in concern, environmental reporting has taken a hit and has been declining in recent years. With climate change being ranked as the lowest concern, worries may have gone away but the problem has not.

Bad news for all of us on earth:

climate-change_1509200c

Evidence of environmental change is stronger now than ever. A few days after the GlobScan results became public; another press release emerged and caught my attention. Last year, the world became the hottest it has been since the end of the ice age, 11,300 years ago. Findings from the study, which was supported by the National Science Foundation, stated that the world’s temperature is still rising and will continue to reach a record high. The study highlighted that the most rapid change has occurred in the past century.

The emergence of evidence showing that

last year

earth scored the hottest temperature since the ice age puts to rest scepticism that global temperatures are no higher than they were in previous centuries, long before the increase in industrial emissions of carbon dioxide.  Another recent press release, from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, noted the second biggest leap in carbon emissions since 1959 (the year record keeping began). The study states that the amount of heat trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere jumped “Dramatically” in 2012.

So why is the Green Fatigue setting in when climate change and global warming are at their worst?

Through some research the most obvious answer that came about is the timing of the Green Fatigue and the economic crisis. With concern about the environment declining in 2009, shortly after the recession hit, people began worrying more about the present economic situation and neglected future environmental issues. The drop in concern also coincides with the timing of the unsuccessful UN climate change summit in Copenhagen, which took place in December 2009. The conference created an air of confusion, disagreement as politicians failed to reach a deal to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

The survey conducted by GlobScan also comes into question since it only surveyed 22 countries around the world. By examining the list of countries you will notice that only a few environmentally friendly countries such as Germany and France made an appearance. While the list was dominated by  some notorious environment bad boys such as China, U.S.A, India and good old Canada, which could have created unbalanced research results.

Share your thoughts! Is Green Fatigue here to stay? What factors do you think are contributing to it? Will environmental concern regain momentum in the future?

What if I Told You the World Map is Wrong?

Image

Take a look at the map above. After examining it for a few seconds, would you agree that North America is bigger than Africa, that  the state of Alaska is larger than the country of Mexico, that China is smaller than Greenland?  Well, what if I were to tell you that, in real life, Africa is three times bigger than North America, Mexico is larger than Alaska, and China is four times bigger than Greenland?

The map above is one of the most commonly used maps in Canada and the United States. It is known as the Mercator projection which is found anywhere from classrooms to boardrooms. Unfortunately, the Mercator projection map is not precisely accurate. It provides a distorted perception of the real size of continents and countries relative to each other. In 1596 the Mercator projection map was created merely for navigational purposes. The poles were enlarged and continent sizes were distorted to make crossing an ocean easier.

In 1974, Dr. Arno Peters created a new type of map that improves the accuracy of how we see the earth.  He produced a map projection known as the Gall-Peter’s Projection, which he claims to be an area accurate map that displays the true size . The image below shows the Gall-Peters projection and will help you compare between the actual sizes of continents and countries.

Image

Does size really matter?

I Believe that simple things, such as maps, can truly influence the perceptions individuals might have about certain countries. People usually equate the size of a country to importance and power. By exaggerating the size of western countries and under-sizing developing countries, in the Mercator projection, people further buy into the notion that developed countries are more important. Making developing countries look smaller than they are on a map portrays them as weak and helpless. Using a map that remains true to size is essential for success in the International Development fields, it can help the notion of equality spread further throughout the world, produce better research within the field, and place development issues, such as migration, further into perspective.

*** Keep in mind that, just like every other map projection, both the Mercator and Peters projections are not completely accurate. They both display various forms of distortion and are created to only serve certain objectives. The reason Peters projection was chosen for this blog is because it deals with the size of continents relevant to development.

Please let me know what you guys think.  Do you strongly support one of these two projections? Do you believe that the size of a country can influence the way developing countries are perceived? Is there another projection that you find is more relevant to the field of International Development?